Russia's expanded presence in Latin America is usually viewed in terms of grand strategy, focusing on security implications. This BBC story, however, should be a reminder that there are other, more insidious effects. If there is one thing Latin America does not need, it is the Russian mafia. Russian casinos have arrived in Bolivia.
A law to limit gambling drastically is due to take effect in July in Russia. Approved during Vladimir Putin's presidency, the measure will restrict casinos to four remote regions.There is literally nothing good about this. Here is the Santa Cruz District Attorney:
So in a scramble for markets, Russian-owned gambling businesses have been eyeing the possibilities in this Andean nation.
"With Russia tightening its gambling laws, it's going to affect a lot of casinos. So it's natural that they would look to Bolivia, because it's a virgin country in terms of investment," said Jose Maria Penaranda, who runs the Bingo Bahiti chain of casinos.
"Basically Santa Cruz has become a little Las Vegas, and foreign capital - mostly from Russia and Brazil - is flowing in, from mafias and other people tied to illegal activities like money laundering," said Mr Cornejo.